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Omicron news roundup: Unvaccinated man denied transplant, new drug brings hope and Musk sparks outrage again

A US hospital is caught between pandemic rules and medical needs of a patient, oral drug may be here soon and Tesla’s boss tweets in support of anti-vaxxers, in a roundup of Omicron-related events from across the world

January 28, 2022 / 03:12 PM IST
In Omicron-led wave, Morocco kicks off vaccine self-sufficiency plan. (Photo by cottonbro from Pexels)

In Omicron-led wave, Morocco kicks off vaccine self-sufficiency plan. (Photo by cottonbro from Pexels)

Unvaccinated man denied heart transplant in the US

A 31-year-old father of two, DJ Ferguson who wasn’t vaccinated has been denied a heart transplant by a Boston hospital. His family has claimed that he did not get vaccinated because of a heart condition that could worsen with the shot. The hospital website has not commented on this particular case but its website says that Covid-19 immunisation is among the many vaccinations people have to take to qualify for a transplant.

Why is it important?

The pandemic lockdowns and vaccination mandates have pitted citizens against their governments, especially in the US and European countries. People believe these protocols are a violation of individual rights and the governments respond by citing community’s health. Ferguson’s case has reached a deadlock because the family wants confirmation from the hospital that his heart condition will not worsen because of the immunisation, and the hospital says that they are only following the recommendations of the American Society of Transplantation. 

Read also: Coronavirus Omicron LIVE updates

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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EU’s drugs regulator approves first oral Covid-19 drug

The European Medicines Agency has given the go ahead for the first oral Covid-19 drug, developed by Pfizer. The drug Paxlovid has been given conditional marketing authorisation. 

Why is it important?

Oral drugs can potentially put an end to the pandemic or the very least make it manageable, because they can be easily self-administered. This reduces the infrastructure requirement and improves coverage.

Elon Musk cheers Canada’s anti-vaxxer truckers

Tesla’s chief Elon Musk tweeted, “Canadian truckers rule” in response to news that the truckers were rising in protest against the country’s mandatory vaccination for cross-border truck drivers. The drivers have threatened to shut down the capital, Ottawa. 

Why is it important?

Musk has been vocal about his opposition to mandatory vaccination, even saying this family won’t take the shot since they weren’t at risk. His backing of an anti-vaccine protest will only fuel the movement, which could slow down the opening up of economies and put many vulnerable at a health risk.

Morocco opens vaccine plant aiming for ‘self sufficiency’

The country has partnered with Swedish firm Recipharm to start a vaccine-manufacturing plant in Benslimane, which is in Casablanca. 

Why is it important?

Aiming for a production capacity of 116 million units by 2024, the North African kingdom hopes to become self-sufficient in its fight against Covid-19 and other illnesses. It wants to cover 70% of its own needs and more than 60% of Africa’s needs.

Omicron-infected could have antibodies for the variant and Delta

An ICMR study has shown that an infection from the new variant could provide immunity for this variant and for Delta variant.

Key points of the study:

*After Omicron infection, re-infection with Delta is less likely.

*This displaces the more dangerous Delta as the dominant strain.

*Study done on 39 people, of which only six were unvaccinated. The rest were double vaccinated.

Key events in India

*Bharat Biotech’s intranasal-booster dose gets go-ahead for trials.

*95% of adults have received first dose and 74% of adults have received both, said Union Health Ministry.

*Kerala’s Health Minister Veena George has said 94% of cases in the state were from Omicron.

*Mumbai sees drop in number of new cases; it fell from 1,858 to 1,384.

*Recoveries outnumber new cases in Karnataka.

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